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Home > Popped Clogs

Popped Clog: Joe Strummer

Joe Strummer - guitarist, vocalist, songwriter and sometime front man - has died. He was 50.

24 December 2002

There is a mystery at the heart of Strummer's 1982 classic, 'Should I Stay Or Should I Go?'

'Should I stay or should I go now? Should I stay or should I go now? If I go there will be trouble If I stay it will be double So come on and let me know..' etc.


Hmmm. Not the most difficult of decisions. If the speaker stays, the amount of trouble caused will be double what it would be if he went. Ergo, he should go:


'If I go there will be trouble
If I stay it will be double'


He has made a risk-assessment of the situation, expressed it in crystal clear terms - but then, inexplicably, refuses to follow his own logic. He persists in asking the question: 'should I stay or should I go?' - and there can only be one reason for this. The question is a test.

The speaker is posing a simple mathematical question - much as if he had said: "If I have three oranges, and give you one of them, how many oranges am I left with?"

It is entirely likely that the relationship of the two people hinges upon the correct answering of the staying / going question. Ironically, a correct answer ("you should go") would probably mean that the person asking the question wouldn't want to go, because test has been passed. A bit like Catch-22.

The 'indecision' which 'bothers me' is obviously the indecision of the person failing to answer the simple question. 'Just answer the damned question' is the subtext. 'Or are you too bloody stupid?'

This is the problem with punk girlfriends. They're thick.



Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

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